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HomeExclusiveHow To Help Someone With Dementia Who Is In Denial

How To Help Someone With Dementia Who Is In Denial

Clearly It’s Dementia What Can I Do Now


What can a family caregiver do when their loved one denies any signs of dementia?

From time to time, were all in denial about various aspects of our life. Its how we cope – denial masks emotions of grief, loss, fear and uncertainty,” writes Marc Agronin.

Things get stickier when our parents or spouses are involved, continues Agronin:

We see things changing and notice the person losing the ability to do what they once could. Often were reluctant to step in and take over as it may feel like were giving up the person or crushing their dignity. Yet, it can be heart-wrenching to watch them suffer. We want for things to stay static and for the person to maintain independence.

When dementia becomes apparent, family caregivers need to take further legal steps. Locate the affected individuals will. Read it to direct you about current, future, and end-of-life plans.

Caregivers must also become familiar with legal documents. These include Guardianship, Durable Power of Attorney, Living Trust, and Living Will. A lawyer can better explain these – any of which may become necessary.

Do Not Try And Alter Undesirable Behavior

Lack of understanding may push one to try and change or stop any undesirable behavior from patients who have dementia. Keep in mind that it is almost impossible to teach new skills or even reason with the patient. Try instead to decrease frequency or intensity of the behavior. For instance, respond to emotion and not the changes in behavior. If a patient insists on always asking about a particular family member reassure them that he or she is safe and healthy as a way of keeping them calm and happy.

Denial May Reflect That The Person Is Feeling Fearful And Needs Time To Accept What Is Happening

It is possible that they have some awareness of their cognition issues and may be feeling uneasy or anxious about this. They may also be fearful about the future.

They may feel or think that other people may feel a stigma about having a diagnosis of dementia.

Here are some ideas to consider when talking to someone about your worries.

  • Broach the topic gently. It may help to remind them that memory issues dont always point towards dementia.
  • Be kind and supportive during the conversation. Listen to their reasons and any fears they raise.
  • Let them know that youre worried about them. Give examples of issues e.g. missing appointments, misplacing items, forgetting names.
  • Break down the larger issue into smaller ones. Pick one to focus on e.g. Ive noticed youve been forgetting names of friends. Maybe the GP will be able to help.
  • Keep a diary of events as proof. This will help you show someone youre worried about that you have evidence for your worries. The diary will also support you both if you see a doctor as they may want to see a record of issues.
  • Turn the focus towards getting support for their friends and family e.g. If you visit the GP, we might be able to get extra help that would give me a break…

If their denial of the issue continues, this may further delay receiving an official diagnosis.

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Paranoia Delusion And Hallucinations

Distortions of reality, such as paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations, can be another result of the disease process in dementia. Not everyone with dementia develops these symptoms, but they can make dementia much more difficult to handle.

Lewy body dementia, in particular, increases the likelihood of delusions and hallucinations, although they can occur in all types of dementia.

How To Deal With A Mean Dementia Patient*

Helping Your Loved One With Their Dementia Diagnosis Denial

Why is my mom so angry? Why does my husband blow up when I try to explain something?

Why does it feel like having dementia and being mean to family often go hand in hand? There is an answera way to avoid the anger that so often accompanies dementiabut its not a simple one. If it were, far fewer families would be dealing with combativeness and aggression when their loved ones develop dementia or Alzheimers. Like anything complex, this will take some explaining, so Ill write about this issue of anger and meanness with dementia in a series of articles .

The first step to having happier interactions and fewer episodes of aggression or combativeness with someone whos experiencing dementia is to understand why they may begin treating you badly.

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What Can I Do If Someone Is In Denial About Having Alzheimers Disease

It can be life-shattering when people obtain a diagnosis of dementia, especially in the earlier stages when they better understand what is happening. Their greatest fears are materializing. As a result, there could be a grief reaction — a trauma-like state that occurs in response to the losses they are facing. It is easier to say, There is nothing wrong with me, than to actually admit the truth.

What makes this tricky is that people with dementia may no longer have the proper coping mechanisms to appropriately process the griefto work through the denial and accept the situation. Living in denial can obstruct the ability to recognize problems and interfere with their ability to successfully manage daily living activities, self-care and independent living.

Sometimes, denial can end when a person has collected overwhelming evidence for the truth — often as a result of worsening conditions or intervention by a skilled therapist or doctor. If possible, share selected reading material about the disease and use videos to reinforce points you are making. Always reassure your loved one that you will take care of him/her.

There is no guarantee that your loved one will understand or accept his/her new condition. With acceptance, he/she may also accept your gifts of help, participate in planning about future care, financial issues, and other concerns, and be more likely to experience contentment in daily routines.

Caregiving In The Middle Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia

As your loved ones Alzheimers disease or dementia symptoms progress, theyll require more and more careand youll need more and more support as their caregiver. Your loved one will gradually experience more extensive memory loss, may become lost in familiar settings, no longer be able to drive, and fail to recognize friends and family. Their confusion and rambling speech can make communicating more of a challenge and they may experience disturbing mood and behavior changes along with sleep problems.

Youll need to take on more responsibilities as your loved one loses independence, provide more assistance with the activities of daily living, and find ways of coping with each new challenge. Balancing these tasks with your other responsibilities requires attention, planning, and lots of support.

Ask for help. You cannot do it all alone. Its important to reach out to other family members, friends, or volunteer organizations to help with the daily burden of caregiving. Schedule frequent breaks throughout the day to pursue your hobbies and interests and stay on top of your own health needs. This is not being neglectful or disloyal to your loved one. Caregivers who take regular time away not only provide better care, they also find more satisfaction in their caretaking roles.

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They Can Put Others In Harms Way

The Mayo Clinic says people with mild dementia are at a much greater risk of unsafe driving. And the American Academy of Neurology strongly recommends that people with even very mild dementia consider giving up driving. Your loved one might be reluctant to stop driving, or they may not be aware of a decline in their decision-making or driving skills.

Support For Family And Carers When A Person Is In Denial Or Has Lack Of Insight

Denial By A Person with Dementia Symptoms

If youre feeling exhausted and worried about someone not acknowledging their diagnosis, this can lead you to feel irritated too. You may want the person to accept their diagnosis and the problems theyre facing so that you can address these.

Perhaps youve got ideas about how to help them with specific activities or tasks. You might also want them to be able to go to specific care services such as support groups.

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Dangers Of Denial: Accepting That Your Loved One May Be Experiencing Early Signs Of Dementia

We know how difficult it can be when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. As a caring spouse, child or grandchild of someone with dementia, we know you’ll experience a roller-coaster of emotions.

One of those emotions may be denial. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, but it’s something you’ll need to deal with responsibly as your loved one begins to show the early signs of dementia. Denial is an interesting psychological phenomenon. As humans, we tend to experience denial when we’re shocked by a piece of information and worried about the future. Denial is emotional insulation. If you cannot accept a fact, even though you see irrefutable evidence of it, you may be in denial.

If you are in denial or another family member is, know it’s no one’s fault. Again, it’s a typical response that only proves you’re human. But it’s best to move forward and understand the risks when it comes to an Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia diagnosis. That’s the only way you can help your loved one with the proper care they need.

Today, we’ll talk about the real dangers associated with the denial of dementia. We understand this is an emotional moment, and we’re here to help. Our goal is to make you aware of these issues so you can be proactive. We’ll start with the most dangerous topics: falls and medication mishaps.

Coping With Denial In Dementia

Being diagnosed with dementia is a hard-enough time for any person and their loved ones, but what can you do if the person refuses all offers of help and support? Its understandable that someone may go through a short period of not accepting their diagnosis, this can happen with any serious or life-limiting condition, but if they persist in refusing help or simply deny that their symptoms are related to the diagnosis, you may need to seek advice from the healthcare team who theyve been referred to.

This is because, by refusing to accept their diagnosis, they will not be accessing all of the help and support that is available to someone once theyve been diagnosed or be able to effectively plan for the future.

Denial can be because someone is scared about the future or feel that if they dont face up to it things may go away or get better on their own, however, this is sadly not the case with dementia and it will usually be in the persons best interest to help and support them to eventually accept their diagnosis. As the Alzheimers Society tell us, is a psychological reaction that enables a person to cope with a difficult situation that may otherwise make them feel afraid, depressed, ashamed or worried.

Whilst patience is always the most effective tool for anyone wanting to communicate with a person living with dementia, here are some other suggestions that may be beneficial when trying to help the person come to terms with their diagnosis.

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Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment

This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:

  • Forgetting where one has placed an object
  • Forgetting names that were once very familiar

Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.

Strategies For Addressing A Parents Dementia

Caring for a patient in denial about their dementia diagnosis
  • Consult with a doctor. Preliminary facts about dementia can be found on the internet. Talking with your family doctor can provide you more knowledgeable and trustworthy answers. Schedule the appointment, ask your questions, and bring a notebook to record the doctors answers.
  • Accept the diagnosis. While we do not want to dismiss dementia, there are far worse health conditions. Mom or dad may have started asking the same questions and telling the same stories but hey will not necessarily suffer from acute pain, be restricted to a bed/wheelchair, nor require a surplus of daily medications.
  • Plan. What will your loved ones future look like? Sit down with your aging parent and have an honest conversation about his/her final wishes. Discuss housing and whether or not they will remain at home or move to a long-term care facility. Will you need to sell your parents home? Will the home be included in THE adult childs inheritance? Will another family member move into the parents home and serve as a caretaker for the property? Also discuss finances. How will regular bills be paid? Who will manage parental investments? Legal documents are also important. Where is the seniors Will located? Is the Will updated to include a new spouse, additional children, property acquisitions, other collectables, etc? Was the Will written up when the senior was of sound mind?
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    Ways To Help When Someone Has Anosognosia In Dementia

    1. Dont try to convince them they have dementiaUsing reason and evidence to explain or insist that someone has dementia is not going to help.

    It will only upset them and will likely make them even more convinced that theyre right and youre wrongly discrediting them.

    A more effective strategy is to discreetly make changes that will help them live safely.

    And overall, stay calm and focused on their feelings when expressing your concerns and keep your comments as subtle and positive as possible.

    2. Work with their doctors and care teamWhen your older adults dementia symptoms are interfering with their daily lives, its time to start working with their care team including doctors, relatives, friends, in-home caregivers, or assisted living staff.

    Explain the problems your older adult is having and help the team understand that they arent aware of their dementia and why it wont help to try to convince them logically.

    Work together to creatively provide your older adult the help they need without waiting for them ask for it or forcing them to admit theres a problem.

    3. Discreetly make their life as safe as possibleMaking your older adults everyday life simpler and safer can help prevent someone with anosognosia in dementia from hurting themselves or others.

    Some people might try to drive, manage money, cook, or do other activities that could be dangerous because of their cognitive impairment.

    Finding ways to help that still preserve pride will be most effective.

    Living With The Disease

    Jo Anne Jordans husband of 49 years, Ed, was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia several years ago. It caused him to have a sleep disorder and while he was dreaming he sometimes got violent. This was against his nature as he was a pastor.

    At church, he started having memory problems that he and his family thought may have been caused by stress. However, after he retired, his cognitive abilities got worse.

    He began hallucinating and thought he saw insects, mice, and even large objects that werent there. Jo Anne had read a book about dementia and decided to take him to a neurologist. The first doctor they saw wasnt helpful at all, so they found one who was able to diagnose the problem and help them to manage it.

    Ed is now in his 70s and is doing well physically. His balance is a little off, but he can do more tasks than he could before like mow the lawn and take out the garbage. Lewy Body Dementia causes visual and spatial challenges so he cant drive anymore.

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    Dealing With Stubbornness In Parents Living With Dementia: 50 Expert Tips For Communicating Gaining Cooperation And Understanding Behavior

    Caring for aging parents gives adult children peace of mind to know they are providing loving care. It also allows for them to make more memories and spend more time with parents in the final chapter of their lives. But caregiving is far from easy, especially when loved ones are diagnosed with dementia. Resisting care and general stubbornness are two hallmarks of dementia, and they are among the most common reasons that adult children look for help as caregivers.

    If youre unsure how to deal with stubbornness in parents with dementia, youre not alone. Most family caregivers of loved ones with dementia struggle daily with getting them to the doctor, gaining their cooperation, convincing them to bathe and brush their teeth, and communicating with them. Read on for a comprehensive list of tips from other caregivers, medical professionals, gerontologists, and dementia experts. Tips are categorized and listed them alphabetically within each category, but are not ranked or rated in any way.

    If you need help caring for a parent or a loved one with dementia at home, learn more about Seniorlinks coaching and financial assistance program for caregivers of Medicaid-eligible friends and family members.

    Refusing Help With Personal Care

    Why your loved one doesn’t believe they have dementia- It’s NOT denial.

    Personal care is an intimate activity and most people will experience difficult feelings if they need help with this. Trying to force a person with dementia to accept personal care constitutes abuse. It is a fundamental human right to say no. However, neglecting someones personal care needs can also be abusive, as the persons health may be put at risk. Therefore, it is essential to understand the persons reason for refusing and to address this.

    We may need to find an alternative way of providing the personal care the person needs, for example, offering a bath rather than a shower. It will be important to find out as much as possible about the persons previous lifestyle and preferences concerning their hygiene. Perhaps the person always had a bath on Sunday mornings and had stand-up washes for the rest of the week. Then we need to adapt to this routine. Through finding out this background information, observing and listening to the person with dementia, we can gradually build up a picture of the personal care routines and preferences of each individual.

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